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Grandparents’ House

(ROCKWALL, TX — August 30, 2017) I’d watch the seconds tick away and as soon as that bell rang I was off to one of my favorite places. Less than a mile from my school sat my grandparents’ house—a virtual farm in the city. I’d store my bike there so I could ride the two acres after a day of the three R’s. Pappaw had been a Mississippi farmer, but after my uncle’s extended illnesses they moved to Memphis. Yet, their hearts were in the land, growing things and fixing things with what little they had and they transformed their property into a field of dreams. Plowed rows produced corn, potatoes, peas, and tomatoes. Peach trees lined the back of the property, yielding both fruit for Mammaw’s homemade cobblers and switches for my cousins and I when we disobeyed.

We called it adventures: rotten crab apple wars and post-harvest corn stalk fights. The brown corn stalks made for great swords to beat the tar out of one another (never mess with green ones, it’s like a getting a thousand paper cuts). In early summer, we’d rob the blackberry bushes of the forbidden ripe fruit and Mammaw pitched a fit because there’d be nothing left for the cobblers.  Down the street was a little Depression-era drugstore that had a Coke machine with icy soda in glass bottles that we had to drink there so we could return the bottle for recycling.

If Pappaw wasn’t farming, he was under a hood. The man had both a green and greasy thumb and he prized his antique autos as much as his tomatoes. There were two cars from the 40’s and a 1954 Chevrolet pickup he drove all over town. It was my classroom for basic car repair and driving a standard. I’d sit behind the wheel in the driveway as Pappaw sold tomatoes in bushel baskets out of the bed, undercutting the local grocer.

On weekend mornings we feasted on bacon and biscuits and sawmill gravy and jelly, all of it homemade. In the evenings our parents would gather around the bench swing under the trees and snap beans, shell peas, or shuck corn till the fireflies were the only light. There was always something to do at my grandparents, a place of hard work in God’s dirt, a place of tales spun over and over again between fits of laughter. And we took the time for all of that, time that few of us have today with all our weekend tournaments, and daily lessons, and social media.

I miss that place. A looking glass to a time when people toiled in the earth and prayed for rain so they had something to eat. A time where you changed your own oil, canned food for the winter, and gathered around to tell stories. Now, when that final bell rings for the day and I send my students out, I wish I could just take a quick walk to their house again and be transported in that field of dreams.

Scott Gill

By Scott Gill of Rockwall, teacher, coach and author of Goliath Catfish. Follow Scott’s blog at puptentpapa.blogspot.com and read his “Front Porch Ramblings” at BlueRibbonNews.com.